Panama November 2017: Rookie Mistake

On Saturday David took me, Ana, and Mileybus out to lunch; we went to a nearby cafeteria that served good, inexpensive Panamanian food. When the time came to pay the modest bill for the four of us, I unthinkingly whipped out my credit card.

I make a huge deal with my guests to Panama about using credit cards carefully — only in banks, and at the hotel, and mostly not anywhere else. Hacking of credit/debit card numbers is a huge problem. Two years ago, three of the four cards I bring — a burner credit and debit that I use only for travel, and my “good” cards in case I run into a financial emergency and need Private Client clout — were hacked within the first week. I didn’t lose any money, because I have fraud alerts on all the cards and was notified immediately. The cards were canceled on the spot and the fraudulent charges denied, but it was a huge inconvenience. The banks were willing to ship new cards overnight, but there’s no place to ship overnight to. The villa I rent, quite literally, has no address.

I don’t know what I was thinking — or not thinking — using a credit card in a random city restaurant. At least the card I took out was the burner card. Surely I’ve been distracted while in Panama about Minga’s health, about the experience of the public hospital. But using the credit card instead of paying cash was a rookie mistake. I checked as soon as I got home on Sunday night and had my secure internet; there are no problem charges listed. But I’ll have to keep checking for weeks.

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